Monday, April 12, 2010

Lopping, Shopping, Birthdays and Bargains.

Our local council announced it would be conducting a pickup of green waste over the next week. It is the perfect opportunity to deal with some of those bigger pruning jobs and dispose of the waste unsuitable for the compost bin.
The announcement seems to have mobilised most of the town into gardening mode. I’ve never seen so many people in their gardens with secateurs, loppers and pruning saws, and roadsides are piled with prunings. In our street it looks like someone has been planting mature kerbside shrubs and gives an idea of what it could be like if the grass nature strips were replaced with verge-side plantings like those created by Josh Byrne on Gardening Australia.

To take advantage of the council pick up we decided to deal with a few things we’ve been putting off for a while. Between our place and next door we’ve had some kind of native tree with a collection of long skinny trunks topped with fine foliage and occasional creamy coloured brush-like flowers. There were two significant problems with the tree. Firstly it was planted on top of the water and gas pipes supplying the house. Secondly, parts of it were leaning over the neighbour’s place. The latter problem has been the reason it was left alone for so long. I didn’t want to hack away at it and have it fall through their roof.

After work on Friday I made a token attempt to cut some of it back, tackling some of the lower, untidy branches leaning over my neighbour’s property. On Saturday we went out for the day and on our return found that our neighbour had continued what I had started and had removed those parts hanging precariously over his house, leaving the remaining tree looking very untidy. Sunday therefore turned into a day of tree lopping and armed with a handsaw I spent a couple of hours cutting the tree back until I was left with five, two and a half metre high stumps. It took me 45 minutes to cut the first one down as low as I could and every muscle and joint was aching. I wasn’t looking forward to the other four stumps.
At that point the neighbour across the road started up a chain saw to attack his own garden and offered to come over and finish my job. Two minutes later and it was all done and all that remained was a stump barely 30 centimetres high.

All of this was much more work than we had intended to do, but at least a major job has been completed with a lot less effort than I’d expected.

Our day out on Saturday that allowed next door to make an assault on our tree was a trip to Canberra. We did a circuit of antiques shops and galleries hoping to find a bargain or two, and since it was Gloria’s birthday we had lunch in a café at Beaver Galleries opposite the Australian Mint. We’ve been to the gallery before to look at the art glass on display but we’d never been to the café.
We both ordered Vegetable Lasagne and were amazed at how good it was. At first the serving seemed a bit stingy, with a solitary rectangle of lasagne in the middle of the plate, but the value was in the tasting and the serving size was more than adequate to satisfy our appetite (which unfortunately led us to miss following up with a serving of one of the tempting cakes on offer).
Each layer of the lasagne contained a different type of veggie; with eggplant, yellow and red capsicum and zucchini being accompanied by a subtle but tasty tomato sauce. Additional flavour was provided by a spoon of green pesto on top. It was the kind of meal that makes you want to take your time and enjoy the different flavours in every mouthful.

Our shopping trip wasn’t quite as successful as the lunch, but for the second time we unexpectedly stumbled across a piece of Helmut Hiebl glass. Until recently Hiebl was a renowned and respected glassmaker with some of his work being held in Royal Collections. I have heard that poor health has caused him to stop practising his craft. The two pieces of his work we have found recently would probably be classed as paperweights. The first shaped like an apple was purchased without realising it was his work. It was signed but we didn’t recognise the signature until we got home and compared it to a piece we already owned. On Saturday we found another signed paperweight in the form of a mushroom, however this time I recognised the signature as soon as I saw it.
In the last couple of months we’ve had quite a bit of luck with finds of art glass. Gloria found a signed piece by Peter Crisp for a few dollars in a local antique shop; we found the two signed Helmut Heibl paperweights and also, the find that most excited me was an early signed piece by Setsuko Ogishi, made in 1984 while working at the Jam Factory Craft Centre in Adelaide prior to the 1987 opening of her own Hunter valley studio and gallery.
Awareness of an artist’s work and recognition of their signatures has allowed us to find pieces priced well below their real value, although (while appreciating the lower price) the real joy is in finding and recognising the piece in the first place.


1) roadside prunings
2) the remains of our heavily pruned tree.
3) the Palette Cafe
4) Maureen Williams glass from her exhibition at Beaver Galleries.


steve said...

Love the aussie glass stories, I collect too and just got given a 1980's Hiebl Jug as payment for some computer work this morning. Rippa. Have you got your pix listed somewhere. I have with aussie paperweights & aussie art glass in the gallery. Be great to see what your up to as well. What fun.

Onesimus said...

Hi Steve,
very good to hear from you. I had a quick look at your website and was impressed by your collection.

My wife is the big glass collector, but I enjoy helping her to find new things for her collection.

Her collection started with a few Caithness vases and bowls. Then on TV she saw some John Ditchfield pieces, and while looking around to find some Ditchfield, she came across Colin Heaney. And that's where her collection of Australian glass started.

She now has several Heaney pieces as well as Sean Donahue, Peter Crisp (whose studio is about an hour from our home, Helmut Hiebl (who lives about 20 mins away - but I heard no longer works due to ill health), Matthew Farrell, Setsuko Ogishi, Jon Firth.

She also has a few foreign pieces - Caithness as mentioned, M'Dina, and Isle of White. The latter two are both studios started by Michael Harris.

I don't currently have many photos posted on the web but there is one of a Colin Heany vase posted elsewhere on this blog.

Onesimus said...

Hi again Steve,
after another look through your gallery I was reminded of another two names from my wife's collection:

Maureen Williams and Eamon Vereker.

She has three William's perfume bottles and from Vereker she has two small birds, a large black and gold wombat and a suspected (but unconfirmable) penguin.

Unfortunately, when we purchased the wombat, the shop peeled off their price sticker and took the studio sticker with it. We didn't notice until we got home and unwrapped it.